Going back to school would be a dream—except for that part where you get your first student loan bill and wake up screaming.
Unfortunately, “non-traditional” students (late twenties and up) graduate with 15% more debt. Use these tips to get that degree as cheaply as possible.
Grab the free money. Only first-timers qualify for federal grants like the Pell. Pursuing a second or third degree? Now’s the time to go crazy on grant and scholarship applications (skip any with application fees). Check out FastWeb and FinAid.
Schedule face time. After filing your financial aid form (a.k.a. the FAFSA), request a “professional judgment review” from your school so you can explain that the income on last year’s tax return won’t be available when you’re in school again.
Go public. PayScale’s College ROI Reportmakes it clear that cheaper public universities perform as well as (or better than) private schools when it comes to post-grad payoff.
Last, remember this rule of thumb: don’t take out more money than you expect to make in your first year after graduation.